Don Shula was an icon… he belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Head Coaches in the NFL. Before Belichick there was Don Shula, he played for Paul Brown and Weeb Ewbank, his first head coaching job was in Baltimore in 1963, after Ewbank was fired. He was the losing coach in Super Bowl III when the Jets beat the Colts… He was a 4 time AFC Champion, winning two Super Bowls including while being the architect of the ONLY NFL team to go an entire season undefeated. He is a member of the Pro Football HOF and is the winningest coach in the history of the NFL with 347 total wins, including playoffs, and in second place is George Halas with 324 and the only active coach that is closest to him is, of course, Belichick with 304.
I was never a Dolphins fan, but I understood and respected Shula’s place in history. He coached some of the best players in the history of the NFL from Johnny Unitas to Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, and Dan Marino. Players I idolized growing up, and part of what made me a fan of the NFL. The death of Don Shula is the death of an era, it is the death of an icon that was part of the building blocks of today’s NFL. That’s who Don Shula was an innovator, he was a legend, he was part of NFL coaching royalty. He deserves to be mentioned in the same breath of Halas, Lombardi, Brown, Noll, and Landry. Comparable coaches in the modern era NFL are Belichick, Gibbs, Parcels, Walsh, Coughlin, and Cowher, but the modern NFL coaches would not be as successful as they are without Don Shula.
So with today’s news of his passing, I offer my condolences to the Shula family, the Miami Dolphins Fanbase, as well as the entire NFL fanbase, on the passing of this legend. A piece of my childhood has been lost, and I am extremely sad because of it, although I understand he was old, 90 years old to be exact, it doesn’t change the fact that part of me looks at this and can’t help but look at my own mortality. I was alive when Shula was in his prime, and I remember when he retired, so I am part of the generation that witnessed the growing up and maturity of today’s NFL. Today’s generation of fans owes a huge thank you to legends like Don Shula for what the game has become.
Thank you, coach, for your contributions to the NFL, to the game of football as a whole, and thank you for your dedication to the game you loved.
May you rest in peace…
Scott “The Sports Nerd” Wright